With a bit of planning, patience, and prep, meals can taste as good in the wilderness as they do at home. For convenience and easy cleanup, some campers like to bring no-cook meals or quick-cooking meals like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cups of dried ramen, and freeze-dried dinners. Other campers prefer to put in a little more effort to create flavorful camping cuisine. Pick your style depending on what kind of camping you’ll be doing (backcountry or frontcountry), how much you like to cook, the type of heat source (campfire or stove), and how much time you’re willing to spend.
Consider bringing measuring cups and spoons if you are frontcountry camping and can spare the room. When backcountry camping, you can generally approximate measurements and the recipes will taste just as good. Experiment with recipes by substituting different vegetables, meats, or grains. It is important to note that the first step for each meal cooked over a campfire is to build the fire far enough in advance to have hot coals ready by the time you want to start cooking.
25 CORE INGREDIENTS*
- Olive oil
- Bacon or vegetarian sausage
- Beef (tempeh or tofu for vegetarian/vegan options)
- Cheese (cheddar or Parmesan, depending on the recipe)
- Canned chicken (canned tuna for pescatarian option)
- Bell pepper
Try this delicious simple recipe for an invigorating Breakfast treat!
Campfire potatoes, bacon, and eggs*
Even the most basic breakfasts can be tricky to cook over a campfire, but with the right technique, the finished product will be improved by that classic smoky campfire flavor.
Heavy-duty aluminum foil
12 medium potatoes, scrubbed or peeled
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
12 strips bacon
A dozen eggs
Bacon fat or olive oil
Cut the potatoes into half-inch cubes. Place all the vegetables in a large mixing bowl, and drizzle them lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Tear off four pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil that measure about two feet each. Place one piece of aluminum foil over a second piece, lining up the edges, with the shiny side facing down on both pieces. Do the same thing to the other two pieces of foil. Divide the vegetables in half, and place each half in the middle of the prepared foil wraps. Fold two opposite sides of the foil over the vegetables, then fold the other two sides over, crimping the edges together to form a tight seal. Do the same to the other foil packet of vegetables. Place each foil packet on a bed of hot coals, and let them roast for about 30 minutes, flipping occasionally. When opening the foil to check the contents, carefully pry apart the crimped edges, being careful to avoid getting burned by escaping steam. The vegetables are done when the potatoes are soft.
Lay the bacon flat and side by side in a cast-iron skillet, and place the skillet over the fire. Turn the bacon with a pair of fireproof tongs after the facedown side becomes just cooked or crispy, depending on your preference.
Once the bacon has finished cooking, pour most of the bacon grease into a tin can or glass jar. Then cook the eggs in the remaining bacon fat (or use olive oil if you prefer). To make a large scramble, first whisk all the eggs in a mixing bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then pour the contents into the skillet. Stir with the spatula until done.
Devon Fredericksen has camped around the world and has backpacked and bagged peaks across much of the American West. She’s worked as a sea-kayak guide in the San Juan Islands, has cycled across Central America, and has rock climbed in many of world’s premier climbing areas. She coauthored 50 Classic Day Hikes of the Eastern Sierra and Greenfire, and her work has appeared in High Country News, Guernica, Yes!, Indian Country Today, Meatpaper, and Eastside magazine. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon.